Improving Lock Time

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One thing that annoys the crap out of me is when an interceptor hits one of our bubbles and MWDs through it to the gate before I can get a lock on the jerk. This article is a result of research and discussion about sensors and lock times. The goal is to explain how lock time works, what affects it, and how to improve it. The sooner your ship locks on to an enemy, the sooner you can open up your guns on them.


Statistics for sensors

  1. Target Range
  2. Max locked targets
  3. Sensor Strength (in 4 flavors: radar, gravimetric, magnetometric, and ladar)
  4. Signature Radius
  5. Scan Resolution

Target range and Maximum locked targets are self explanatory.

Sensor Strength is the strength of your sensors. It does not have anything to do with lock time. It is the denominator under the numerator of the enemy's jammer that gives the % chance the enemy has to jam you. So, higher is better.

Signature radius has nothing to do with your lock-on capabilities. It is the number that affects how hard it is to lock on to a ship. See the equation, below. Smaller makes it harder for you to be targeted.

Scan Resolution is how finely your sensors can discern objects. This is the statistic that affects lock time. The higher the resolution, the faster you'll be able to lock on to targets.

The lock time equation

This equation has been implemented here for the lazy (works with the IGB): alternate website:

Lock time = (10000/scanRes)/(asinh(sigRad))

scanRes = scan resolution of your ship
sigRad = sig radius of the target
asinh = the inverse of the hyperbolic function

Example: A megathron locking a punisher

Lock time = (10000/95)/(asinh(38))

105.26 / 4.33 = 24.31

Approximately 24 second lock time.

Modules that can affect scan resolution/lock time


  • Cloaking device: (even if offline!) Prototype Cloak: -50%, Improved Cloak: -40%, Covert Ops Cloak: -0%
  • Gang assist: the information warfare link - recon operation module will increase scan resolution within the gang.


  • Sensor Booster: Scan Resolution AND Targeting Range: Sensor Booster I: +25%, Sensor Booster II: +30%
  • Sensor Booster with scripts: Scan Resolution OR Targeting Range: Sensor Booster I: +50%, Sensor Booster II: +60%

low fitting (T1, T2: 10 CPU, 1 grid, named: 8 CPU) and skill requirements (T1: Electronics II, Long Range Targeting I, T2: Long Range Targeting IV).

Note on stacking (and penalty): It's slighty better to use 2 unscripted Sensor Boosters than one with each script.


  • Warp Core Stabilizer decrease Scan Resolution AND Targeting Range. Tech I: -50%, Tech II: -40%.
  • Signal Amplifier I: +10% scan resolution and +15% targeting range
  • Signal Amplifier II: +15% scan resolution and +20% targeting range.

Might not be worth fitting, (uses 20 CPU, 1 grid). On the bright side, they're always on and don't eat cap. They're also better than nothing.


  • Slot 7: Hardwiring - Zainou 'Gypsy' KNB-25/50/75 (+1%, +3%, +5%)

Skills that affect lock time

The skill Signature Analysis will improve your lock time by 5% for each level you have in the skill.

If you're in a fleet and someone above you in the command tree has the Leadership skill, your lock time will be reduced by 2% per level of this skill. See Gang Bonuses for more details.

Just before Xmas '06 Warp Core Stabilizers were hit with a couple of huge penalties and now increase lock time by a huge amount. They're now only useful if you're hauling or solo-convoying and are incredibly :self-harm: if fitted for PvP.

General racial sensor capabilities comparison

While I was looking at this, I took the time to compare equivalent frigates, cruisers and destroyers side by side to see what race had what advantages. From best (1), to worst (4), it worked out like this:

Target range: 1) Caldari 2) Gallente 3) Amarr 4) Minmatar

Max locked targets: This was about even. Maybe Caldari, but it depends on the ship.

Sensor Strength: 1) Caldari 2) Gallente 3) Amarr 4) Minmatar

Signature Radius: 1) Minmatar 2) Amarr 3) Gallente 4) Caldari

Scan Resolution: 1) Minmatar 2) Amarr 3) Gallente 4) Caldari

I was kind of surprised at the result of that comparison as I thought Amarr were far worse than they are. Apparently, Amarr and Minmatar ships are generally better at hunting small, fast ships.

Hopefully we will be able to use this knowledge to our advantage during the next interceptor raid.

tl:dr version

For faster lock times:

Train Signature Analysis, and train Leadership if you're going to lead fleets, wings or squadrons.
Mid fittings
Sensor Boosters
Low fittings
Signal Amplifiers